The goal of the Michigan History Day program is to encourage students to explore historical subjects through hands-on study. Students research a topic and then share their findings by creating an exhibit, website, documentary, performance, or paper. The steps below will get you started, but to learn more you should read through the National History Day Contest Rule Book.
Please take a few minutes and tell us a little about yourself. Click the link below to open a brief survey.
Step 1: Topic Selection
Every year, History Day has a different theme. Your topic may focus on any geographic area, historical period, event, or individual or group, but it must relate back to the annual theme. Learn about this year’s theme.
Start researching topics. When choosing a topic, keep in mind that you need to be able to explain the historical significance of your topic. This may be more difficult if only a few years have gone by. We suggest an event, person, or idea that occurred at least 25 years ago.
Once a topic is selected, begin to narrow the topic.
Step 2: Research
You will need to use both primary and secondary sources for your History Day project. Start on the MHD Research page.
Take careful, legible notes, and write down where the information came from. As you create your entry, you will have to cite your sources.
Evaluate your sources. Compare many different sources to make sure that the information is consistent.
Step 3: Create Your Project
- Write your historical argument or thesis. Plan on revising your argument as you work, it's rare to get it right the first time.
- Create a History Day project. Check out resources for each type of category on the MHD Resources page. Are you going to work alone or in a group of two to five students? Remember, if you want to write a paper, you can’t work with a group. View sample projects from the National Contest.
- Write a process paper and annotated bibliography.
Step 4: Contests
School-level contest—Usually occur in late January or early February. Each school will be limited to sending the top three entries in each of the nine categories. (In schools where grade levels include two or more age divisions, then the top three entries for each grade division will be accepted).
We encourage schools with high participation to facilitate school-level competitions based on the National History Day model. State and district coordinators are available to help teachers and administrators organize these events, which should take place 1-3 weeks in advance of the district registration deadlines. Teachers may implement their own system for selecting the top three entries in each category should a school-level event not be possible.
District contests—Usually occur in late February or March. The Contests page lists contact and contest information for each district. You can also use this page to find your district.
State contest—Usually occurs on the last Saturday in April. Click here for information about the State Finals. (2022 link coming soon!)
National contest—Occurs in June at the University of Maryland campus in College Park, MD. Learn more about the national contest at nhd.org.